Visitors excited for hot air balloon festival in aftermath of Red Hen controversy

Locals defend own town of Lexington

LEXINGTON, Va. – It was too windy for the hot air balloons to take flight Saturday morning.

But co-director Rachael Killingsworth of Balloons Over Rockbridge estimated thousands of visitors were at this year's festival.

"There's something magical about a community coming together and supporting each other,” Killingsworth said.

Nealin Parker, who was born and raised in Lexington, was excited to attend the festival.

“You see the community coming together,” Parker said.

After more than a week of heat surrounding The Red Hen controversy, owner Michael Yerks of Blue Ridge Cider Doughnuts said this fun-filled event couldn't come at a better time.

“An event like this welcomes everybody. That's what it's all about. Everybody should be welcomed,” Yerks said.

Parker, who was going for a walk near The Red Hen said she defends her town.

“I feel like we're stuck in this national and international discussion that is making it more difficult for us to come together, and I feel like, you can't do that to my town,” said Parker.

The festival is dedicated to supporting local charities.

This year's funds will benefit Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center.



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